The Chicago Bears have a tall task on Sunday: Beating the New England Patriots. On offense, Matt Nagy and his staff will have to go up against one of the greatest defensive minds of All-Time in Bill Belichick.
When Nagy was calling plays last season for the Kansas City Chiefs as the offensive coordinator they were able to go into Foxborough and beat the Patriots. In fact, Nagy’s offense put up 42 points in week one’s blowout.
Something similar happened this past Sunday night when the Chiefs scored 40 points on the Patriots’ defense. Hunt and Hill again had big games against the vulnerable unit, who seems to really miss defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
It’s big that Nagy will able to watch his former team against the opponent he is facing on Sunday. Expect the Bears to attack the Patriots in a similar way when the two teams face-off in Soldier Field.
This year’s Patriots defense lacks playmakers. Outside of LB Dont’a Hightower and CB Stephon Gilmore, there isn’t anything special about the players on defense. It doesn’t need to be special with Belichick running the show, however.
Against the Chiefs and so far this season, the LBs have been the best players on the Pats’ defense. Hightower, along with Kyle Van Noy made things difficult for Mahomes early on in Sunday’s game.
The McCourty brothers have had their issues in the secondary. They gave up a combined 139 yards and three touchdowns on 12 targets.
On the defensive line, Trey Flowers is the only player that should scare the Bears. He has an act for getting to the football. Check out this play from Sunday.
GREAT play by Trey Flowers! pic.twitter.com/46TEMpf3ZD
— New Account (@ftbeard_17) October 15, 2018
Danny Shelton is someone to watch in the run game, but he slowed down bigtime on Sunday night in the second half.
DVOA is a great way to break down a team’s defense. If you haven’t heard of DVOA an explanation can be found below.
(Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) calculates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average.
The Patriots rank 19th in total DVOA. This shouldn’t be surprising based on what we’ve seen from them so far this season. Let’s not forget Andrew Luck and the Colts were a handful for of drops away from that game being a lot closer.
Against No. 1 WRs, the Patriots rank 29th in the NFL. However, against No. 2 WRs they rank third. Gilmore usually stays with the “X” receiver on the opposing offense. The “X” receiver typically lines up on the weak side of the formation. That’s why the Patriots rank third against No. 2 WRs – teams usually use them on the weak side of the formation.
Against the run, the Patriots’ defense ranks in the middle of the pack (16th). The run defense has been hit or miss in 2018.
TE Trey Burton may have his hands full, especially with those talented LBs roaming the middle of the field. The Patriots rank 8th in DVOA against TEs.
Matchup the Patriots can exploit: Complex Formations
The arrow is definitely pointing up with second-year QB Mitch Trubisky. He has thrown nine touchdowns in his last two games.
With that being said, he is still learning how to be an NFL QB. That could make things difficult for him on Sunday against Belichick. He was able to give Mahomes problems at times with complex formations and exotic stunts.
TE Travis Kelce appears to be covered by #98 on this play. When he comes in to rush, Mahomes thinks he has an easy completion to Kelce over the middle. That’s exactly what the Patriots wanted him to think as Hightower picked off the rookie gunslinger.
Trubisky has to keep track of the LBs on Sunday, especially Hightower. Belichick is going to test the young QB with formations that he has never seen before. Nagy and his staff need to do a good job getting their QB ready to play.
Matchup the Bears can exploit: Tarik Cohen, the Receiver
It’s pretty much impossible for any team to cover Cohen out the backfield and the Bears know it. In his last two games, Cohen has 14 receptions for 211 yards. Don’t forget that he’s an RB. An RB that has a similar skill-set to the Chiefs‘ Kareem Hunt.
Hunt caught five passes against the Pats for 105 yards and a touchdown. It would have been even more if Mahomes didn’t miss a few throws like the one below.
Sorry Jordan Howard, but the Bears will need to continue to utilize Cohen as a receiver on Sunday against the Patriots.
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